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Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes

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  • Katharina Greulich
  • Albert Marcet

Abstract

We show a standard model where the optimal tax reform is to cut labor taxes and leave capital taxes very high in the short and medium run. Only in the very long run would capital taxes be zero. Our model is a version of Chamley's, with heterogeneous agents, without lump sum transfers, an upper bound on capital taxes, and a focus on Pareto improving plans. For our calibration labor taxes should be low for the first ten to twenty years, while capital taxes should be at their maximum. This policy ensures that all agents benefit from the tax reform and that capital grows quickly after when the reform begins. Therefore, the long run optimal tax mix is the opposite from the short and medium run tax mix. The initial labor tax cut is financed by deficits that lead to a positive long run level of government debt, reversing the standard prediction that government accumulates savings in models with optimal capital taxes. If labor supply is somewhat elastic benefits from tax reform are high and they can be shifted entirely to capitalists or workers by varying the length of the transition. With inelastic labor supply there is an increasing part of the equilibrium frontier, this means that the scope for benefitting the workers is limited and the total benefits from reforming taxes are much lower.

Suggested Citation

  • Katharina Greulich & Albert Marcet, 2008. "Pareto-Improving Optimal Capital and Labor Taxes," Working Papers 337, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:337
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & Jim Malley & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2011. "Time-consistent Fiscal Policy under Heterogeneity: Conflicting or Common Interests?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3444, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Röhrs, Sigrid & Winter, Christoph, 2017. "Reducing government debt in the presence of inequality," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, pages 1-20.
    3. Sofía Bauducco, 2011. "Seigniorage and Distortionary Taxation in a Model with Heterogeneous Agents and Idiosyncratic Uncertainty," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 611, Central Bank of Chile.
    4. Ferrara, Maria & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2017. "Equitable fiscal consolidations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 207-223.
    5. Tobon Orozco, David & Molina Guerra, Carlos & Vargas Cano, John Harvey, 2016. "Extent of Expected Pigouvian Taxes and Permits for Environmental Services in a General Equilibrium Model with a natural capital constraint," BORRADORES DEPARTAMENTO DE ECONOMÍA 015258, UNIVERSIDAD DE ANTIOQUIA - CIE.
    6. Roberta, Cardani & Lorenzo, Menna & Patrizio, Tirelli, 2016. "Optimal Public Debt Consolidation with Distributional Conflicts," Working Papers 350, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 05 Oct 2016.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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